PUERTO PLATA, Dominican Republic — The new Amber Cove port on the north coast of the Dominican Republic is rapidly coming together a little more than a month before the first ship is scheduled to arrive on Oct. 6.
The port, being developed by Carnival Corp. and a local partner, already has a 1,280-foot pier, a bus and taxi staging area, cabanas and the finished shells of bars, restaurants and shops.
Landscaping is being planted and the interiors of the structures are ready for build-out.
About 350,000 guests from eight Carnival Corp. brands are expected to use the facility in 2016. About half will come from Carnival Cruise Line, which will use Amber Cove year-round.
The 25-acre project cost $85 million to develop. About half of the space is devoted to a transportation hub. Six acres along the shore have been reclaimed from the bay. There is a large pool area, but no beach on the port property. Carnival will offer multiple beach excursions.
A total of 44 tours have been developed with a wide range of styles. Amilcar Cascais, vice president for tour operations at Carnival, said he expects tour participation of upwards of 60% initially because guests will be curious about the new destination. Participation is typically in the 30% to 50% range.
The pier, with a channel dredged to 36 feet, is capable of handling two of the largest ships in the Carnival fleet at once, although initially only one ship at a time will dock there.
Amber Cove is named for the amber mines in the interior near the port. There will be an amber wall art installation that will feature a caiman embedded in it.
The northern coast of the Dominican Republic last received regular cruise calls 30 years ago, and the 300,000 residents of the area are excited to see the project nearing completion, said Julio Almonte, vice minister of tourism for the Dominican Republic. He said the country’s president visited the site two months ago to show support.
“The future of Puerto Plata is this project,” Almonte said.